Bears Training Camp Diary: Day 11

We break down all the on-field action from this morning's Bears practice session, which included multiple in-game scenarios to prepare the club for Friday's preseason opener.

The 11th Chicago Bears practice of 2013 training camp is in the books. It was by far the muggiest day of camp, with temperatures hovering in the 80s, yet the humidity made it feel like 100 degrees.

Injuries

-T Jonathan Scott (knee) sat out practice again today. It was the seventh straight session he's missed.

"He's day to day, and we're hopeful," said coach Marc Trestman. "We certainly would like him back but he's day to day."

-LB D.J. Williams (calf) is still in his walking boot and was limping noticeably.

-WR Earl Bennett, who hasn't been present at practice since last Friday, was on the sidelines today. The team later announced Bennett indeed has a concussion.

-S Chris Conte warmed up with his teammates but sat out the rest of practice with tightness in his hamstring. It was a precautionary measure.

"My hamstring was just a little tight today, and instead of pushing it or pulling it and a chance of injuring it, I just wanted to play it safe, and the coaches were on board with that," Conte said after practice. "I just kind of took it easy today."

Conte said he'll play on Friday.

-DE Corey Wootton missed the second half of practice with tightness in his calf.

-For the second day in a row, DE Julius Peppers was excused from practice for personal reasons.

Notes from Day 11

-I haven't talked much about Brandon Marshall since camp began but that's because I assume you already know what to expect from him. And those expectations will be met again this season, as Marshall has been absolutely dominant in Bourbonnais.

On nearly every snap, he lines up across from All-Pro cornerback Charles Tillman, who never takes a play off in practice. Routinely, Marshall has been too much for Tillman to handle. Whenever Cutler wants, he just tosses a back shoulder pass to Marshall, and Tillman can't do anything about it. In fact, it's become so commonplace, it's almost ho-hum at this point.

The ball is definitely being spread around more but Marshall is still getting his looks, and he's made the most of almost all of them. His numbers may not be as eye-popping as they were last season but he'll have just as big of an impact in Trestman's offense.

-Yesterday, Henry Melton tipped three pass attempts at the line of scrimmage, one of which he caught and returned for a touchdown. That made roughly 15 batted balls since camp began. After practice, both Jay Cutler and Aaron Kromer discussed the team rule of no batted balls in practice, yet Trestman said defensive linemen are allowed to keep their hands up, as long as they don't jump.

So, for the third time in Bourbonnais, Melton tipped the first pass attempt of practice, which LB James Anderson intercepted. Cutler stood for a brief moment staring at Melton, then turned and walked to the huddle. On the next play, Cutler stepped into the pocket and launched a 30-yard pass to Marshall, who out-jumped Tillman near the sideline for the completion.

Your turn defense.

-T Jermon Bushrod (calf) was dressed for the third day in a row. Yesterday, he participated in the first two sets of team drills but sat out the rest of the session. He was replaced by Eben Britton.

Today, Bushrod again began practice working with the first team, yet he and Britton were then rotated throughout the session. Bushrod is doing more work every day and is making good progress.

"We took our time with this thing. I didn't try to push it," Bushrod said. "The training staff and I kind of worked hand in hand and it's paid off. Every single day I've been out here I've done a little more, I've pushed myself a little more, and today was the most I've done."

Despite the progression of the calf, Bushrod still isn't sure if he'll play on Friday.

"It's all about how this thing is feeling tomorrow, tonight. I just have to evaluate it," he said. "I can't see the future. Take it one day at a time every single day, and if it's feeling good, we'll see what they say."

-The Bears conducted today's session in preparation for the preseason opener. Coaches were not on the field during team drills, to mimic where they'll be watching the action during games. Assistant offensive line coach Pat Meyer acted as the in-helmet microphone, working with Cutler to relay the plays from Trestman.

"Different tempo, we were more in game-management type of situations," Trestman said. "We did everything from the sideline today, there were no scripts or preparation for the players. We gave the coaches and the players to work situational football like it would be in the game. Everybody can see that our sideline is going to be full of people, and managing the sideline in the preseason is always very difficult, particularly for the special-teams coaches with people going in and out of the game. We got some of that prepped."

During special teams, the coaches worked on all four phases, getting players from the sidelines and onto the field in a timely manner. The kickoff team also worked on a number of different onside kicks, while the field goal block team worked on returning field goals that fall short. In essence, they went over nearly every situation they can encounter during a game.

Today's session was a glimpse at how the team will practice the day before games in the regular season.

-One player I'll be interested to watch on Friday is rookie linebacker Jon Bostic. With Williams out, Bostic has been getting first-team reps at middle linebacker. He's definitely athletic enough to play the position but his progress has been slow, particularly in coverage.

Today, during a two-minute drill, Bostic ran onto the field and had no idea what he was doing. Lance Briggs was yelling at him, while James Anderson was trying to push him into position. At one point, Bostic did a full 360 trying to figure out where he was supposed to line up. After the play, Briggs let out a roar and was demonstratively upset. Williams is still limping badly, so Bostic is going to be a starter for the foreseeable future. That being the case, he needs to quickly increase his grasp of the defense.

-The Bears signed Leonard Pope last week due to a lack of depth at the tight end position. Yet the enigma within the group continues to be Fendi Onobun. In the passing game, he's still making plays. Today, he ran a skinny post and made a 30-yard touchdown grab in between three defenders. In that play, he demonstrated good speed and an ability to make catches in traffic.

Yet he's no guarantee for a roster spot. In fact, he takes almost as many reps with the third team as he does the first team. And he doesn't even participate in pass-blocking drills, so the coaching staff obviously has no use for him in that capacity. Onobun will likely make the team as Bennett's backup but at this point, it's clear he's a one-dimensional player who lacks consistency. He can still be a weapon in the passing attack but he has a limited skill set.

Rapid Fire

-The defensive line was in the backfield all day again today. The offensive line struggled individually, with stunts and the blitz. There just isn't a lot of continuity right now, something that needs to get fixed in short order.

-WR Marquess Wilson, who took all of his snaps with the second team yesterday, moved back to the third team today. He did get a few reps with the second team but he didn't make the most of them. On one snap, he ran a quick slant that badly beat Isaiah Frey, yet Wilson dropped the pass. WR Brittan Golden took his spot with the second team.

-With Peppers and Wootton out today, DE Kyle Moore once again moved into the starting role alongside Shea McClellin. Remember, Moore was in the second-team rover spot yesterday, so the team obviously feels he's a multi-talented player who can contribute this season.

-The top four corners on the team – Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Frey and Zack Bowman – have all looked good during camp. Yet the fifth corner, Sherrick McManis, is a liability in coverage. He gets beat regularly in camp. He's valuable on special teams but if McManis is called into duty, things could get ugly.

-First-round offensive lineman Kyle Long has had his moments but for the most part, he has looked exactly like a rookie. He's very inconsistent and continues to misplay stunts and blitzes. He also had the only false start of the day, which is roughly his sixth of camp. Long is still very far behind in his understanding of the game, but what did anyone expect from a player with just five Division I games under his belt?

-Edwin Williams has looked much better the past two days than he did earlier in camp. During pass-rush drills, he was stoning defensive linemen play after play.

-Trestman quote of the day, to his receivers: "Good focus out here keeping the ball off the ground. Don't be the guy."


Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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